How to make watching television more enjoyable when you have hearing loss

While baseball was first to earn the nickname “America’s pastime,” our love for entertainment and education has bumped the use of television well above baseball — and all other sports for that matter.


For several decades now, watching TV has become the choice leisure activity for many Americans. Research suggests that 95% of adults in the United States watch television daily, and according to the Nielsen Total Audience Report (Q4 report, 2019), adults age 18+ spend over 36 hours a week using their televisions. That number includes watching live TV, recorded shows, movies, and time spent using devices like DVD players, game consoles and smart TV apps.

Why TV is challenging for people with hearing loss

People with hearing loss, and sometimes even those wearing hearing aids, can find watching television challenging. This article will help you understand some of the factors that impact television sound quality and the tools that are available for enhancing the enjoyment of coveted TV time.


Hearing loss and the auditory system (your ears)


Individuals with hearing loss can face two challenges when it comes to being able to enjoy sound from a television: loudness and clarity. Properly fit hearing aids can help overcome hearing loss and ensure that sounds are audible. But things get more complicated when clarity or speech understanding is compromised. Individuals who struggle with both issues often report that the TV signal is loud enough but not clear enough.


Technology considerations (your television)


Sound quality in television is technically defined by how accurately audio is reproduced compared to the original arrangement. TV shows, movies, and video games are all mixed in the studio to have a distinct sound before we view them — which may or may not work well with our personal preferences for sound quality. Believe it or not, some programs are intended to be bass or treble-heavy!


In addition, the frequency response, inherent distortion of the television set and the audio format (analog, digital, compression, bitrate, etc...) can all play a role in the quality of sound provided by the TV.


Unfortunately, most televisions only come with the ability to deliver mediocre fidelity and the use of a dedicated speaker system or soundbar is often required for the best possible replication of the original signal.


Environment and visuals (your setting)


Distance from the television, reverberation and background noise can also impact sound quality in negative ways. In addition, whether we realize it or not, we all use lip reading to supplement speech understanding. Unfortunately, we’re not always guaranteed access to faces on the TV set when people are talking. For example, newscasters share details while the camera pans across a scene, cooking tips are explained while we’re shown a pot on a cooktop, and action movies are notorious for dialogue that occurs simultaneously with car chases or exploding buildings.

How you can hear your TV better

So, what can be done to help improve the sound quality experience with the television beyond using a soundbar, closed captioning or recording programs to rewatch them? Starkey is delighted to offer a variety of tools to help optimize and personalize your television listening experience.


Livio Edge AI, Livio AI and Livio hearing aids

Start with our best sounding and best performing hearing aids ever. Livio offers dual-radio wireless technology, twin compressors to optimize audibility for speech and sound quality for music, embedded inertial sensors and artificial intelligence for optimal hearing in every environment. Our Livio Edge AI hearing aids also offer the Edge Mode feature that uses environmental analysis to determine optimal signal processing in any environment and can help ‘crisp up’ the TV signal.


TV Streamer_01


TV accessory

Our TV Streamer eliminates the effects of distance, reverberation and background noise by streaming sound directly from the TV to your ears.




Thrive Hearing Control app

This popular smartphone app allows you to create a custom memory environment for TV viewing using an equalizer, noise controls and microphone mode settings to personalize sound quality to your specific preferences. When used with the TV Streamer, you can stop/start TV streaming, adjust the volume of the streamed signal, and offset the hearing aid microphone input to reduce noise in the room for the best possible listening experience.




Remote accessory

Our Remote provides a visually and dexterity-friendly way to manage hearing aid settings and TV accessory streaming start/stop and volume if the listener does not have a smart device or prefers not to use the Thrive App.


Hearing aid user controls

The controls on-board Livio Edge AI, Livio AI and Livio hearing aids can be programmed by your hearing healthcare professional to allow you to stop/start streaming from the TV Streamer and adjust the volume of the streamed signal.

Start binge-hearing your favorite shows again!

There’s no doubt that the use of television is an important part of our culture today. We rely on it for so many things — to relax, escape, learn and even play games. Starkey is proud to support individuals with hearing loss who want to enjoy TV by making hearing aids that deliver the very best sound quality possible along with accessories and the Thrive Hearing Control app to optimize TV viewing with the ability to accommodate individual preferences for sound quality.


To try Livio hearing aids or any of our accessories yourself, call 1-888-908-1845 or click here and we’ll help schedule a safe and health-department-compliant demonstration with a hearing healthcare provider in your area.



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By Andrea Hannan Dawkes, Au.D.